Turn it Up: A Familiar Returning Favorite

Song: “Wherever is Your Heart”

Artist: Brandi Carlile

Why I picked it: I was shopping this weekend in an adorable boutique and had one of those moments where you stop and ask the owner what playlist they have playing. Brandi Carlile’s new album was playing a number of times and this song in particular was the one that punched me over the edge to ask. I was swaying, smiling and wondering why I had never really listened to her before–even though I’ve heard about a million times. (Hello, one of the biggest Avett fans ever right here.)

Best part of this song: When a chorus has really great lyrics I don’t mind repetitiveness. This one rings genuine to me. And maybe it’s because I feel it in my day to day. Ignore the sappiness, listen and see if you feel the same way about someone.

Favorite lyric: Wherever is your heart I call home / Though your feet may take you far from me, I know


Watch List: Inside Llewyn Davis

Oh goodness, I cannot wait to see this movie.

If you’ve ever even stumbled on my “Turn it Up” series, you know that I adore American folk music above most things in life.

My favorite exchange in the trailer that speaks such loud volumes to the idea of passionately doing something for what it means to you and your existence and who you are and what you’re contributing to the world is between Llewyn and Jean when she asks “Do you ever think about the future, at all?”

Llewyn answers: “You mean move to the suburbs? Have kids?”

To which Jean says,”That’s bad?”

And Llewyn drives home that passion by saying, “If that’s what music is for you; a way to get that place–then yeah, it’s a little careerist and it’s a little square. And it’s a little sad.”

I don’t want to do something to get somewhere else. I want to do something because it’s inherent to my existence to continue being who I am.

I may not be a musician, but I do love music : ) I love Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons, I adore Punch Brothers and Oscar Isaac, Gillian Welch and Milk Carton Kids. And they’re all involved with this film in some capacity–be it lines on the soundtrack or headliners at the supporting concert.

And if you’re not sure about the cast (c’mon JT is included, along with Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and John Goodman)—then at least trust the direction of Joel and Ethan Coen who have blessed us with other great films like Fargo; O Brother, Where Art Thou; The Big Lebowski and No Country for Old Men.

This movie is going down as an immediate must-watch for me!

In support of October as the best month: The Avett Brothers

Listen. Right this second.

“Another is Waiting” from The Avett Brothers.

Check out the full story, thanks to NPR.

I am in shock that another album, Magpie and the Dandelion, is coming on October 15th. Based on this single that is in early release this album is going to be just as incredible as The Carpenter was in 2012. Seriously, I truly must go to another concert ASAP.

Birthday October 7 . . . Fall leaves. . .pumpkin spice candles. . . pumpkin spice LATTES . . .new Avett Brothers music. . . Brother’s birthday . . . football . . .I could continue on all the reasons that October is just great.

Alerting all food lovers (don’t have to be a foodie/extra points if you love NC): A Chef’s Life

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I’ve had the unbelievable honor of meeting Vivian & Ben Knight. I’ve cooked with their Blueberry BBQ sauce. And I’ve been a part of an incredible, unforgettable guided dinner at their Kinston, N.C. restaurant “Chef & the Farmer.” (Daggonit why didn’t I get photos and autographs??)

They are AMAZING.

The food? I tried quail, yams and fried collards. I tried turnips and I tried trout caviar. All North Carolina local farm to table and all five-Michelin stars of talented, creative cooking (I’m qualified to grade, yes). Recipes adapted from grandmothers and neighbors, all dazzled with the sparkle of Vivian’s trade that she picked up from kitchens in New York City and brought home to eastern Carolina.

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And now it’s time for this kitchen to be shared across the country.

Vivian and her family have spent the past year cooking, creating and filming their own PBS primetime cooking show: A Chef’s Life.

I’ll let that sink in.

Watch the trailer here. Can't post on my blog sadly. The trailer is AWESOME. (yes, me yelling shows I'm for real!)

Watch the trailer here. Can’t post on my blog sadly. The trailer is AWESOME. (yes, me yelling shows I’m for real!)

Unsurprisingly (that’s how great this woman+husband+family team is) they’ve already met their dollar goal; but every bit still helps. Check out their site and even if you don’t support right now, plan to support soon when this show finally gets to hit your television in September 2013  (check your local listings)! I’m beside myself with excitement to watch and appreciate food and southern cooking culture. I’m far from a foodie, but the Knight family is just darn relatable. They’re funny, charismatic and every conversation I’ve had with Vivian has left me with so many interesting food facts that I didn’t know, didn’t know to ask about and feel better knowing.

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If you like food? Watch.

If you like southern culture? Watch.

If you like North Carolina? Watch.

If you like stories about real, everyday people being wildly successful doing what they’re passionate about? Watch.

If you like stories about people who take risks for what they love? Watch.

If you like to feel comforted in a “that’s how life should be” way? You should watch, too.

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The concept of farm-to-table makes so much sense. Every time I hear the stories of the ingredients and methods that “Chef & the Farmer” use it takes you back to that realization of: why do we make it so hard with preservatives and imported ingredients? Why don’t we support our neighbors more and live in a more connected world to the community that we live in?

But don’t let that make you think this is a backwoods, farmer food series for one second. Vivian and Ben spent many years in Manhattan before returning to North Carolina. They’re just going to show you the best of all of those worlds, coincidentally in the setting of a quaint small town.

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PS: Listen closely. Do you hear that North-Carolina Avett Brothers involvement? My heart swells with NC pride.

I’ve done half justice to swooning the Knights’ praises, so if this wasn’t enough–check this out:

A CHEF’S LIFE is nothing like the cooking shows you see on the Food Network or PBS. Every week you will see relationships bloom around family, stories, and places, while you glimpse Chef Vivian at work crafting dishes like the Perfect Tomato Sandwich, Pimp My Grits, and Pork Belly with a Pepsi glaze. Moonshine Cocktails, wine, and beer are also on the table. Vivian is a James Beard Award semi-finalist (two years in a row!), but through her eyes you will meet people you’d otherwise never see on television: home cooks, gardeners, hunters, fishermen, beef, chicken, and pork farmers, and wine and whiskey makers, drawn from every racial and social group. Vivian does what many working women aspire to do these days—building a local network and a global career, nurturing her family with water from the taproot of her hometown.” —Chef & the Farmer

Day two of a fresh 13.

So, my New Years Eve was pretty amazing. It looked a little something like this. (Kind of bitter I don’t have a better photo of the great outfit I put together. I’m rarely proud of an outfit, but that one was a good one!)



A dinner and concert going of ten newspaper friends that I hadn’t seen in roughly three years. Lots to talk and nerd out about. It was entirely as awesome as the concert that followed.


This photo does insanely little justice to a) how fairly decent our seats were and b) the greatness of the Avett Brothers, themselves. So many songs, and yet somehow didn’t hear a handful of favorites—but, that’s OK because my insane desire to already see them again live then has (as if needed) other legitimate reasoning. Right? : )


I’m pretty confident it was hands-down one of the best New Years Eves that I have experienced. So, freaking, cool.

And now 2013 is off to a solid start. Typically people (myself included) are posting the usual 2013 resolutions; but I think I still have my hands pretty full with wrapping up my 25 by 25 list. So, just to recap what’s left for this  year:

  1. Learn to play guitar.  – (in progress)
  2. Get a stamp in my way-too-empty passport.  – (January 2013)
  3. Write a book proposal. – (needs an action plan . . .)
  4. Run a half marathon. – (mama’s gotta start running again, stat)
  5. Break out my should-have-been-used-by-now tent. – (this spring! I need some committed tag-alongs though, so need to work through those details)
  6. Learn how to actually keep a personal budget. (the one true resolution for 2013. Hello envelope system, starting next paycheck!)
  7. Volunteer time somewhere that really counts. Find a non-profit to dedicate passion. – (Open to suggestion, need to start doing some research)
  8. Take a trip with brother. – (TBD. It’s all very secretive right now)
  9. Re-immerse in the arts: read more, listen to bands I’ve never heard of. – (Turn it up, Monday mornings? In progress. List of books to read? In progress. Seeing a lot of movies and shows? Typical.)
  10. Continue my education. Enroll in a class or make a point to find non-traditional ways to keep challenging myself and growing. – (Need to research.)
  11. Stop being afraid of commitment, Mom & Dad have set an awesome example—there’s no reason to be so antsy.
  12. Find a new church home.
  13. When you see family members are calling, answer it. When you see long-distance friends are calling your phone, answer it. When you don’t want to call, don’t underestimate the power of sending the unexpected letter. – (Need to vow to write more letters. Maybe one a month here on out? Already doing better with answering calls.)
  14. Be outrageously spontaneous at least once. Want to watch a sunrise on the coast? Go. Want to see that band that only plays on weeknights at a hole-in-the-wall in New York? Make it happen. – (I did a baby spontaneity; but need a grander gesture…)
  15. Surround myself with French. That includes you, Sarah Bennett. (Make it to Montreal.) Find a conversational friend. Read something French at least once a week. – (January 2013)
  16. Try for other acting experience. – (Wimping out on this one, someone inspire me!)
  17. Learn how to handle a firearm. Okay, and maybe shoot one too. – (Calling friends who love guns; take me to the range)
  18. Be published in a news forum that I haven’t been published in before. – (Have my eye on a publication . . .)
  19. Be vulnerable. It’s OK to tell people how I feel every so often. In fact, I should tell some people every single day. – (I think I’m going this? But need to be more proactive and attentive to specifics.)
  20. See a play on Broadway. – (Summer 2013, maybe?)
  21. Visit a state I’ve never been to. (January 2013)
  22. See what it’s like to be brunette. Even if it’s just a day.
  23. Simplify. Purge the belongings I don’t need. Space, memories and people are more important than things. (This is happening in so, so many ways. Getting this checked off by the end of the month for sure.)
  24. Be open to being in a relationship and really think about what I want.
  25. Apply for something outside of your comfort zone. Be it a mission trip, race or whatever I’ve wanted to try in the past but chickened out on.

Look at all of that that I have left to do! Did you make a resolution? Hopefully my laundry list just helped yours feel pretty accomplishable. Myself, I’m a little overwhelmed now; but still glad I’m keeping tabs. Have to keep moving!

Happy day two of the new year!

Turn it up, Monday morning.

Week 7: Amos Lee

Tonight I’m going to see the Avett Brothers and Amos Lee live, and I seriously…for the first time…listened to Amos Lee last night. Better late than never though, because I really love it and am now even more excited about tonight’s show. The most popular/well-known of his hits is “Sweet Pea,” which you might recognize from commercials years past. However, my personal favorite “Flower” can be found on the “Mission Bell” album. I love the description of his music as “1970s folk rock and rustic soul.” Seeing as how he has been compared to John Prine and Norah Jones, it’s shocking that he hasn’t a) already been on my iPod and b) not already been featured as a “Turn it up.”

Enjoy my friends, and concert permitting, maybe I’ll have a live video to share after this evening!

Merry Christmas, Friends.

Hope that everyone has had a totally wonderful Christmas.

Mine has been pretty great in a laid back, comfortable, happy, lovey kind of way. We, no joke, slept in until 11 a.m. before finally getting up, making some cinnamon roll breakfast and opening presents. How adult. No clamoring for gifts, just really enjoying each other’s company and being leisurely. What a luxury. No pressures!

Favorites of the day?

– A new guitar that I’ve been messing with incessantly. First tuning was a success, now I’m feeling my way through what is I’m sure the easiest song on the planet G….D….C….D….G….D….C….D…. : ) I feel like I can’t cross off the 25 by 25 until at least a few months of successful playing. Key word being “successful.” Seems fair.

– Great new camera that will come in handy next month with all of the traveling.

– More of my Mamaw’s cooking.

– A $5 Avett cd I’ve had my eye on forever.

– Comfy new Mast General Store hiking socks that are helpful when the house is freeeezing.

– Walking out the door and smelling chimney smoke.

– Watching “21 Jump Street” with the fam and seeing my mom crying she’s laughing so hard.

Overall, entirely and overwhelmingly blessed this Christmas. But even with the awesome food, family time and new stuff—ever mindful of the King who came and made this day what it is.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6